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July 18, 2008


Rika Watanabe

It's perfectly within limits of the technology, but is there business sense in such a decision? I keep wondering about that while roaming the grid in search for intelligent life.

It does make some sense (but not much) for a mall or shop owner to have a camping system set up because it racks up their search ratings, but it doesn't make sense for them to fill it with bots, they can just put bots to randomly dance lambada 24/7 in a skybox and save on chairs. (In fact, I think I saw exactly such an arrangement once, a small skybox full of stationary, non-moving, and most importantly, non-rezzing avatarz huddled close together, at least ten of them.) A mall owner's income is shop rent, a shop owner's income is product sold, which makes it profitable for a mall owner to give away horrid business-in-a-box kits but charge hard rent, but I digress... A shop's income depends far less on how much time the people spent there, more people coming in and quickly going away pleased with their purchase is better, as long as the time spent is sufficient to browse through the selection. As a result, the rationale for camping chairs is profitable at least for the mall owner, who cheats entrepreneurs out of rent, and it doesn't make the shop owners too suspicious since some product is being sold.

But since very few, if any, clubs, charge admission fee, I believe their main source of income would be tips, and these would only come from regulars and social groups forming around the establishment. More time spent would be more important than the number of transients. As a result, non-paying bots kill a club business automatically, since they won't really hold the transients down and won't motivate them to tip...

Anya Ristow

If you're going to pad your traffic rating with bots, they might as well do something useful, right? A shop owner would do well to have a bot modeling the products. It pads the numbers, helps sell products, provides an interesting point of focus for the store, and uses no prims. This is actually a pretty neat use of bots, provided the product is worth modeling. I've seen it done well. Check out Cherry Tokyo's Kimono store.

Dancing, chatting bots would serve a similar purpose in a club: pad the numbers while making the place look more lively than it is. This will only work if the bots are convincing, though, and I've not seen it done well, and don't expect to see it done well any time soon. Making bots fun to talk to is not going to be an easy task.

It's surprising, particularly for clubs that are at least a couple years old, but I think most club owners fail to understand that a club should be a social space. If what you offer is a music stream and a place to watch your avatar dance then you offer nothing at all. I got a kick out of watching my avatar dance the first day or so I was in SL. I'm over it. I want more now.

I don't know how anyone could think that random nonsensical chat and ascii art gestures makes a place more lively. IRL even stupid smalltalk and crowd cheering involves some interactivity. We'd otherwise be able to keep ourselves company with recordings.

Rika Watanabe

There's no question bots have legitimate uses, (beside what you cited above, interfacing external software would often be accomplished better with a bot than an in-world script due to having far less limitations) but at current level of technology chatting isn't it, that's true. In fact, it's like a throwback all the way to the days of COBOL when natural language was the Holy Grail of computing, an interesting toy and research point to be sure, but nowhere practically useful.

But behavior of the club owners seems patently odd, and finding out exactly why do they think it works when it so obviously doesn't is an interesting research topic...

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